Mussoorie
Pay your respects to the Queen of Hills
POPULAR AS Queen of the Hills, Mussoorie is a charming hillstation, 34 km from Dehradun, and is situated at an altitude at an altitude ranging from 1,860m to 2,300m above sea level.
Without doubt, one of India’s most beautiful hillstations, Mussoorie provides an excellent weekend escape for people in the sultry summer months. Its proximity to the key religious attractions of Kedarnath, Badrinath, Yamunotri, Haridwar and Rishikesh, and other hillstations makes it even more popular. Today, Mussoorie has evolved as an important centre of education business and tourism the star attraction of Mussoorie is gun hill in pre-independence, days a gun mounted on its top used to be fired at noon, to help people adjust their watches. The hill offers a panoramic view of key Himalayan peaks including Bunderpunch, Srikanthe, Pithwara and Gangotri group. Enjoy a thrilling 400m ropeway ride to the second highest peak of Mussoorie.
Walk down the lovely stretch of almost 3 km at Camel’s Back Road which starts from Kulri Bazaar and ends at Library Bazaar. You can walk down or go on horseback. Proceed to the bustling mall and indulge in the wide variety of cuisine. Do not forget to pay a visit to the oldest book shop, Cambridge book store.
Mussoorie is home to some spectacular waterfalls, including the Jharipani Falls, Bhatta Falls and Kempty Falls, easily accessible by car or on foot, and ideal for picnics. Other major tourist spots of the area are Naga Tibba, Dhanaulti, Surkanda Devi Temple and Lakha Mandal.

About 450m above Mussoorie is Landour, known for its large Tibetan settlement and a delicious variety of foods. The town is lined on one side by thick oak woods bordering the cantonment stroll on this road, with beautiful hill homes dotting it, and emerge at the Char Dukan square. Landour has a quiet beauty, with narrow roads and zigzagging pathways. The British developed this hill town into a convalescing centre for wounded soldiers during the mid 19th century.
GOOD TO KNOW
34 km from Dehradun the drive from there takes less the n an hours.
Dehradun
For an enriching experience, start with the capital
Its serene environs, mild climate and proximity to Mussoorie, Rishikesh and Haridwar make Dehradun a favoured destination for tourists, pilgrims as well as adventure enthusiasts. Dehradun once popularly referred to as a ‘retirement city’, today is a thriving business and educational centre. The capital city of Uttarakhand is not only the seat of administration, but is the headquarters of many national institutes and organisations and also one of the most important academic and research centre today. Dehradun’s best known landmark is the Clock Tower, a bustling major business centre, around which several of the city’s important schools institutions and shopping complexes are located.
During Shivratri, pilgrims flock in thousands to the nearby Tapkeshwar Temple. It is a fascinating sight to watch water droplets originating from a rock drip onto the Shivling inside the shrine.

No visit to Dehradun is complete without the 14 km drive to Sahastradhara, ‘The Thousand Fold Spring’. The water of this beautiful sulphur spring has medicinal benefits, believed to cure various kinds of skin of and stomach ailments.
Whether it is gourmet fare or hearty Indian food, the eclectic mix of students, officials and academicians, have a lot to choose from in Dehradun. Its traditional bakeries are thriving. Hip food joints and interesting cafes cater to a populace eager to experiment with the new, and savour the old. Do not forget to buy the famous long-grain basmati rice. En route to or from your excursions, stop at the fruit stalls laden with luscious litchis and Dussehri mangoes, among the many delights of Dehradun.
GOOD TO KNOW
The city has an airport and a railway station that is well connected to many major cities.
Nainital
An old favourite for family getaways
SITUATED AT A height of 1,937m, Nainital is a glittering jewel in the Himalayan necklace. Dotted with lakes Nainital has earned the epithet of ‘Lake District’ of India. The most prominent of the lakes, Naini Lake in the centre of Nainital town is ringed by hills. It divides the town into the upper and lower areas of Tallital and Mallital.

The Uttarakhand hills resonate with mythological references and Nainital has its own legends woven around the lake, and its name derives from the goddess Naina Devi, the presiding idol of the region. The three sages Atri, Pulatsya and Pulaha, the story goes, had stopped over at Nainital on their pilgrimage finding no water, they dug a hole and transferred some water into it from the sacred lake of Tibet, Mansarovar. Thus came into being the Tri Rishi Sarovar, or Naini lake. Another legend says the left eye or ‘Nain’ of lord Shiva’s wife, Sati, fell in this centre and formed an emerged the city of Nainital.
Visit the Cheena Peak or Naina Peak. Do not forget to carry or hire binoculars when you visit the scenic view point. You may take the ropeway that starts at the Mall in Nainital. Watch the sunset from the Hanumangarh temple and follow this by moon watching from the observatory nearby. The British cemetery and Dorothy’s seat on the Tiffin Peak are also worth seeing. While here, do take a peek at Gurney House, of the legendary Jim Corbett. The adventurous can trek to these places. St. John’s church is one of Nainital’s oldest buildings founded in 1846 this church has been a Nainital favourite from the time the town was just about starting to flourish. One of the striking features of this Episcopal Church is a brass plaque on its altar that commemorates the victims of one of Nainital’s worst landslides in 1880.
In Nainital you can shop for handloom products, locally produced candles, as well as Kumaon woollens. The town hosts several annual festivals and an exciting regatta -sailing race-in the third week of June. You may hire the yachts from the Nainital Boat Club and enjoy! Paddle boats are also available on hire.

Visit the lakes at Sattal, Bhimtal and Naukuchiatal, located just a few hours away from the town. All three offer scenic views and tranquil boat rides
GOOD TO KNOW
35 km from Kathgodam the nearest rail head about 280 km from Delhi by road. It will be about a seven- hour drive.
Bhimtal
This little gem is a honeymoon hotspot
BHIMTAL IS A small town located just 22 km away from Nainital. It is named after Bhim, the strongest of the five pandava brothers is the epic mahabharata.
Most popular for its boat rides, Bhimtal offers some of the best scenic views of the clear lake and its captivating surroundings. Hidimba Parvat, named after a demoness from the Mahabharata, overlooks the lake leisurely explore the outside periphery of the iake and walk through the forests. Wild raspberry and dog rose embellish the ravines of Bhimtal. The 12m-high victorian dam adorned by flower gardens, entices the tourist to stop over and rest in the pretty environs. The site of the dam features Bhimeshwar Temple, dating back to the 17th century. About 2 km from Bhimtal is nal Damayanti Tal, a small natural lake where the famous king nala is believed to have drowned. This is a very sacred place for the locals.

Walking down the dappled paths, among sprawling farmhouses lined with citrus trees and terraced fields, you will feel you are in paradise honeymooning couples love the sylvan beauty of Bhimtal.
GOOD TO KNOW
About 20 km from the closest railway station Kathgodam it will be a one hour drives
Naukuchiatal
Attain inner peace in this quiet little town
NAUKUCHIATAL LITERALLY MEANS the lake nine corners. If you wish to experience instant nirvana stand before the lake with placid waters and identify its nine corners, and behold, according to ancient folklore your moment has come.
Bounded by deep, woody forests and lush greenery, Naukuchiatal offers some truly rewarding walks for nature lovers. In the solitude and quietness, you will delight in watching colourful butterflies and numerous bird varieties. The green mountain ranges and iridescent bluish waters reflect nature gloriously in all its bounty.
Apart from an afternoon picnic and a boat ride on the lake, you can also enjoy challenging sports in this area: paragliding, angling and fishing being some of them.
While Naukuchiatal itself has a hundred and more charms of its own, there are a number of other pretty places closeby. Nainital, the queen of Kumaon, is just an hour’s drive away. Jim Corbett National Park is another destination worth combining with a visit here.
GOOD TO KNOW
about 20 km away from the closest railway station kathgodam. It will be a one hour drive.
Mukteshwar
Come here for a glimpse of rare birds
SITUATED 2,286m ABOVE sea level Mukteshwar offers as its USP, a 180-degree view of the Himalayan ranges. It is an important hillstation in Kumaon. The town became popular after the classic novel, the man eaters of Kumaon, written by Jim Corbett apparently, Jim Corbett apparently jim corbett hunted half a dozen of the man eating tigers of kumaon like the champawat tiger and panar leopard, which had killed hundreds of people. In 1893, the british developed a research and education institute in the town. A popular spot is chauli jali with natural lattice work on the rock and believed to have the power of blessing women with a child. The overhanging cliffs are a great place for rock climbing and rappelling.
The Mukteshwar temple is devoted to Shiva. A lingam made of white marble, is surrounded by idols of Brahma, Vishnu, Ganesh, Parvati, Nandi and Hanuman. Dense conifers and fruit orchards are found in abundance. These evergreen woodlands are home to uncommon birds liks Himalayan ruby throat, whits crested laughing thrush, among others. See the peaks of Nanda Devi, Nanda Ghunti, Nandakot, Trishul and Panchachauli at sunrise and sunset, and watch glorious colurs splayed on the snowy peaks.
GOOD TO KNOW
About 70 km away from Kathgodam the nearest railway station. It will be about three hours away.
Lansdowne
A beautiful little hillstation nestled in Pauri Garhwal
SITTING 1,706m ABOVE sea level Lansdowne is a pretty hillstation in the Pauri Garhwal region of Uttarakhand. Founded in ad 1887, the retreat grew popular with the British, who established the Garhwal rifles regimental centre here during the raj. Today, the command office of the legendary Garhwal Rifles of the Indian army is based in this town.
Thanks to the cantonment Lansdowne is quite well developed. The drive to Lansdowne is very picturesque, taking you through sleepy hamlets and thickly forested countryside roads. Tall oaks and blue pines rise like spires off the mountain side. The war memorial at the parade grounds of the Garhwal rifles is very popular with tourists.
Summers in Lansdowne are very pleasant, while winters are bracingly cold, and may experience snow sometimes. Lansdowne was the main base of independent movement activities of India during the British raj. Tourism at Lansdowne has a different face; it is not commercial but eco friendly tourism, so as not to disturb the natural beauty of this quaint town. Less than 40 km from Lansdowne and at a height of 1,800m is Tarkeshwar Mahadev, known for its Shiva Temple built by Col A.H.B Hume of the royal engineers in 1895, the St. Mary’s church here is located near the famous tip in top point. The erstwhile place of worship is now a small museum with some rare pre partition photos.
GOOD TO KNOW
Kotdwar is the nearest railway station 40 km away
Ranikhet
Be mesmerised by the beauty of the Queen’s meadow
THE PRETTY TOWN of Ranikhet, situated about 1,829m above sea level, is in the district of Almora. This is a popular holiday spot and one with immense natural beauty. Developed by the British as a hillstation for their troops, a cantonment was established here in 1869. Today, the Indian Army’s celebrated Kumaon regiment is headquartered in Ranikhet.
Ranikhet retains an old-world charm that is hard to resist. The upper and lower mall roads connect the three forested ridges of Deolikhet, Chaubatia and Alma hill. Take a walk around, and inhale the fragrant pine air and listen to the whispering wind.
Stroll around the bungalows and you can feel the presence of the Memsahibs of the erstwhile raj. The nine-hole golf course spread over undulating meadows is a visual delight.
Every year thousands of tourists visit Ranikhet for its natural beauty, the sounds of the birds, the rich flora and fauna, and amazing mountain views. Ranikhet is also known for and wide for its delicious apples, apricots, peaches and various other alpine fruits.
Dwarahat, Sitalakhet, Tarikhet and Khaira are a few destinations that you can check out nearby.
GOOD TO KNOW
About 90 km from Kathgodam, the nearest railway station. A quaint cantonment town.
Dhanachuli
Pay a visit to the land of happy people
DHANACHULI IS AN enchanting little village located about 10-14 km from Mukteshwar. Blessed with pleasant weather, breathtaking views of the Himalayas, lush forests, Dhanachuli is perhaps one of the most beautiful weekend getaways from Delhi.
With a miniscule population of under 1,500 people, and just two hundred and twenty three households spread over many hill, it has remained unspoilt. The female ratio is very high as is the literacy rate. The people of Dhanachuli live a simple life, which is reflected in their ever smiling faces.
Due to the hilly topography, the area is abundant with potato fields and fruit orchards, placed strategically on terraces cut into the hillsides.
Fill your senses with the scent of the earth, as you trek through mountain trails, or ride with the wind on a bicycle through picturesque paths that take you on a journey of discovery. Or simply enjoy the spirit of the mountains within the exclusive environs of this little village. For those who would like to explore the region, located a few hours of driving distance are Mukteshwar, Nainital, Bhimtal and Almora.
GOOD TO KNOW
About 80 km away from Kathgodam the nearest railway station.An offbeat choice for the discerning.
Almora
A town with unparalleled charm
ALMORA IS LOCATED at an elevation of 1,651m on a ridge at the southern edge of the Kumaon hills of the Himalaya range. Shaped like a horse saddle, it is surrounded by thick forests of pine and fir trees. Flowing alongside the town are the rivers Koshi and Suyal. The view of the snow-capped Himalayas in this town is simply mesmerising. Mahatma Gandhi wrote of Almora: “I wonder whether the scenery of these hills and the climate are to be surpassed, if equalled, by any of the beauty spots of the world. After having been nearly three weeks in Almora hills, I am more the n ever amazed why our people need go in Europe in search of health”.
Roam the charming old lanes and bylanes of the town’s bazaars. If copper vessels are your passion, then visit the famous Tamta Bazaar.
Often referred to as the heartbeat of Kumaon, Almora has a rich cultural heritage. It has been home to many creative and intellectual people: noted freedom fighter Govind Ballabh Pant, poet Sumitranandan Pant, dancer Uday Shankar Nobel Laureate Sir Ronald Ross and lyricist Prasoon Joshi are some of the eminent personalities with roots in Almora.
Besides its rich cultural heritage, Almora is known for its unique handicrafts, sumptuous Kumaoni cuisine and magnificent wildlife.
The region is immensely rich with 4,000 species of plants. The flora may be classified into tropical, Himalayan sub-tropical and sub-alpine and alpine vegetation.
Almora has many noted temples, including Kasar Devi, Banari Devi, Chitai, Binsar Mahadev, Garhnath and Baijnath. Kasar Devi temple was visited by Swami Vivekananda and the area also has a chabad house. A sun temple is located at Katarmal within a short distance from this little town.
GOOD TO KNOW
About 90 km from Kathgodam. Nainital – Ranikhet – Almora make for a good circuit.
—————————————–
Kausani
Mountain views and tea gardens
NESTLED IN THE beautiful Kumaon hills, just about 50 km from Almora the tiny and lovely hillstation of Kausani is perched at 1,852 m above sea level. It is unique for its unparalleled 250 km-wide picturesque views of the Himalayan snowpeaks. Mahatma Gandhi spent considerable time here 1929.
With its enormous mountains silhouetted against the sky a deep sense of tranquility, Kausani is often compared to Switzerland, and called ‘the jewel of the Himalayas’ – terms that sum up the essence of this hill town.
There is plenty to see in and around Kausani. Literature lovers must visit the Pant Museum, devoted to the legendary Hindi poet Sumitranandan Pant. The poet’s house-turned-museum showcases his daily use articles, drafts of his unpublished poems, letters and awards.
For trekkers there is Pinakeshwar 20 km away. Nearby Someshwar has a famous Shiva temple. The Kausani tea estate is a delight for those who love the world’s favourite brew.
GOOD TO KNOW
About 150 km from Kathgodam, the nearest railway station. Combines well with Almora.
Chaukori
The best view of Himalayan peaks, right here!
CHAUKORI IS A tiny hillstation in the Pithoragarh district nestled among the lofty peaks of the western Himalayas in the Kumaon division. The Mahakali river running along its eastern boundary forms the Indo-Nepal border.
With an elevation of 2,010m above sea level, Chaukori offers a spectacular view of the snowy peaks of Nanda Devi and Nanda Kot. It is approximately 10 km from Berinag, another picturesque hillstation in its vicinity.
Chaukori epitomises the breathtaking beauty of Pithoragarh district. You can enjoy magnificent views of the Panchachuli peaks, with stunning Himalayan sun rises and sunsets. Like the poet Robert Frost, dare to take the road less travelled, and enjoy the idyllic vacation you had envisioned appreciate the unspoilt magnificent beauty of Chaukori where you encounter nature at its pristine best. Forests of pine, oak and rhododendron are interspersed with cornfields, tea gardens and orchards.
GOOD TO KNOW
The closest railhead is at Kathgodam, a little more the n 200 km away.
Pithoragarh
Be charmed by the towns of this beautiful district
PITHORAGARH, THE EASTERNMOST district of the Kumaon district, shares its border with Tibet to the north and Nepal to the east. The district is rich in ecological diversity. The town is situated in a small valley and measures barely 2 km by 5 km. Popularly known as the soar valley, it at the centre of four hills – Chandak, Dhwaaj, Thal Kedar and Kundar. This lesser-known part often referred to as ‘Mini Kashmir”. The lofty snow covered peaks of Nanda Devi (east), Nanda Devi (west), Trishul, Nandakhat, Rajrambha, Panchchuli group and many others soar like sentinels above the thinly populated northern part of the district.
Charming alpine meadows and glaciers, including the Milam Glacier, Ralam Glacier, Namik Glacier and Sunderdhunga Glacier among others are a trekkers haven.
Pithoragarh a treasure trove for visitors. Mountaineers botanists as well as religious tourists. The Mansarovar Yatra route is a delight for trekkers and adventure seekers alike. Many rivers originate from the lofty Pithoragarh mountains, providing ample opportunity for water sports.
The dense forests around this town have a wide range of wild flowers. Peacocks, elephants, tiger, musk deer and snow leopards are found in the forests. The charming and colourful people of Pithoragarh celebrate all their festivals and religious ceremonies with great fanfare and devotion. Once the bastion of the chand rulers, Pithoragarh towns dotted with temples and forts belonging to that era.
Visit the famous Pithoragarh Fort, which is built on top of a hill just a little outside the town. Enjoy a picturesque view of the valley from this fort, built in 1789 by the Gorkhas. Also worth a Dekko is the Kapileshwar Mahadev Temple, dedicated to lord Shiva.
GOOD TO KNOW
The nearest airport is at Pantnagar, about 250 km away. Tanakpur about 150 km away, is the nearest railhead.
Lohaghat
Experience the historical richness of this little town
THIS BEAUTIFUL TOWN of historical and mythological interest is located on the banks of the river Lowahati. The town has gained popularity on account of its many temples frequented by devotees from neighbouring towns. Many myths surround the Mayawati Ashram, one of the most visited places here. Located at short distances are many places of interest like Shyamal Tal, Abbot Mount, Forti Village, Gurudwara Sahib, Galchaura and Varansur fort.
This town is also famous for a ‘fight’ carnival called the Bagwal that can be witnessed at the Devidhura temple on Rakshabandhan day. The rapids in the river are ideal for ranfting and other sporting activities, and a travellers visit to experience adventure.
GOOD TO KNOW
About 90 km from Tanakpur railway station. Good adventure sports destination.

Spiritual

Haridwar

The holy town is much more than just rituals temples

HARIDWAR, ONE OF the holiest cities in the country , needs no introduction. the gateway to the four major pilgrimage sites in the state, this historical city has moved with the time to become one of the major tourist sites in the country,not just for the religious minded. Here, Ganga, the holiest of holy rivers, leaves the mountains and enters the great plains of North India. if a tryst with the gods is what you seek, then join the hundreds of thousands of devotees who throng here every year. Encounter the vibrant mix of folklore,mythology and tradition. Haridwar casts another magic spell on the traveller. According to the mythological story of samudra manthan (churning of the ocean ) drops of amrit (elixir of life) fell at four places, of which Haridwar was one. every 12 years, during the kumbh mela this is celebrated, and millions of pilgrims and tourists come to Haridwar for a dip in the holy waters in their effort to attain moksha (liberation) form the cycle of birth and death.the Ganga Aarti, performed in the evening simultaneously at all temples along the banks of the river at the Har Ki Pauri is a spectacular sight. The fragrance of incense, sounds of conch shells and bells, lit diyas afloat in tiny leaf boats on the waters of the river and thousands united together in prayer make this an uplifting and humbling experience.

Haridwar, meaning gateway to the lord, is associated with both Lord Shiva and Lord vishnu.in sanskrit, Hari’ means’ Lord Vishnu’ and dwar means’ gate’ or’ gateway’. So, Haridwar is the ‘Gateway to Lord vishnu ‘in his abode in the Badrinath shrine similarly, in sanskrit,’Har’ means ‘Lord Shiva’ . Hence, Hardwar (an alternate name of the city) stands for ‘Gateway to Lord Shiva’abiding in the temple of Kedarnath.

The five important sites within the city of Haridwar – Har ki pauri, Kankhal Ghat, Mansa Devi temple, Chandi Devi temple and Maya Devi temple – are called panchpuri and are a must for pilgrims and tourists. Several temples and ashrams dotted in and around the city are epicentres of meditation, ayurveda and spiritual wall-being. the gurukual continue to foster the ancient guru-shishya (teacher-disciple) parampara or tradition alcohol and non -vegetarian food are not permitted here.

GOOD TO KNOW: The nearest airport is at jolly Grant near Dehradun, about 30 km away. It has a railway station well connected by rail to the rest of India. the Dehradun Shatabdi rail is a daily service from Now Delhi.

RISHIKESH

Yoga, meditation and spiritualism make for a winner

RISHIKESH IS LOCATED around 25 km north of the holy city Haridwar, and comes under Dehradun district. the literal meaning of Rishikesh is’ Lord of the senses'(or Lord Vishnu). Legend has it that Lord Rama did penance at the banks of the river Ganga in Rishikesh for killing the demon king Ravana of Lanka and this established the city on the religious map of India. A popular destination for pilgrims as well as adventure tourists, Rishikesh is located close to the point where the Ganga enters the plains. Visiting the numerous temples in the city and taking a dip in the holy waters of the Ganga are essential parts of the pilgrimage. Laxman Jhula, a suspension bridge used by pedestrians to cross the river,is the most famous as a haven for spiritual seekers and as the yoga capital of the world. it hosts the international yoga Festival, organized jointly by the Uttarakhand tourism and Parmarth Niketan Ashram.Held in the fist week of March,it gives yoga enthusiasts a window of opportunity to learn and practice multiple styles of yoga like Kundalini Yoga, Kriya Yoga, Power Yoga, Hatha Yoga and so on

Many ashrams in Rishikesh offer stay,and great learning experiences on religion, spirituality, yoga,meditation and ayurveda practices.Arguably,it was the Beatles’ stay in Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram here that introduced yoga and Rishikesh to the western consciousness in the 60s. the band composed over 50 songs during its stay at Rishikesh.in recent years, Rishikesh has gained wide popularity in the field of adventure sports.it has emerged as the had of white water rafting in India.the Ganga here provides medium to rough rapids. Hiking backpacking and bungee jumping are also very sought after.Another high in Rishikesh is the excellent vegetarian food, the bakery fare and the not-to-be-missed masala chai and cold lassi the consumption of alcohol and non -vegetarian food is strictly banned in the city.

GOOD TO KNOW: About 25 km from Haridwar, which is the nearest railway station.

JAGESHWAR
A town rich in both history and atmosphere

JAGESHWAR A PILGRIMAGE centre and historical town in the Almora district is also an architectural delight one hundred and twenty four large and small temples built during a span of 1,000 years from 8th to 18th century AD and over hundred sculptures are under the archaeological survey of india (ASI) A museum miantianed by (ASI) has an interesting display of sculptures and idols decipher the 25 inscriptions on the walls and pillars of temples that date back to the 7th century AD the temple architecture at jageshwar is of the nagara style with tall curvilinear spires surmounted by a capestone and a kalash crown

The town is steeped in the lore of lord shiva nageshwar temple one of the twelve jyotirlingas is believed to be located here the main temple of jageshwar is dedicated to bal (child) shiva and there is another temple dedicated to virddh (Old) Shive other temples are dedicated to jageshwar mahadev mrityunjay mabhadev and the nav- grahas nine planets the sage adi shankaracharya vitited jageshwar and is supposed to have renovated and re established many temples before leaving for kedarnath the pilgrimage to jageshwar is considered as sacred as badrinathand kedarnath locals caught in legal tangles solicit the help and blessings of the gods at the nearby temple of golu devta they place photocopies of their legal documents before the deity a kund (pool) and a cave nearby are oft visited by tourists jageshwar is surrounded by pristine deodar forests it is about 65 km from the binsar wildlife sanctuary and 35 km from the town of almora

GOOD TO KNOW: The nearest railhead is at kathgodam approx 120 km away

Hot Spring

Discover the healing touch of water

NUMEROUS HOT SPRINGS in the state of Uttarakhand, mostly near religious sites, offer the weary pilgrim or the sick and fevered brow a welcome respite,and hope of healing in salubrious climes.

Some hot water springs of Uttarakhand are listed below;

Discover the healing touch of water )

NUMEROUS HOT SPRINGS in the state of Uttarakhand, mostly near religious sites, offer the weary pilgrim or the sick and fevered brow a welcome respite,and hope of healing in salubrious climes.

Some hot water springs of Uttarakhand are listed below; Yamunotri: It has two hot springs, Surya Kund and Gauri Kund, located at the site of the temple of Goddess Yamuna.

On the way from Yamunotri to Gangotri is Gangnani , also known as Rishi Kund. also, there is a hot spring in the village Sukhi Kedarnath: Gauri Kund (not to be confused with the one with the same name at Yamunotri). It is believed that the Goddess Parvati during her penance bathed in this kund. there is another hot spring by the name of Garam Kund.

Badrinath:on the way from Rishikesh to Badrinath,near Joshimath, there is a hot spring named Tapovan. Just below the temple of Badrinath is believed to be the abode of Lord Agni (Fire). Narad Kund is located next to tapt kund. Another hot spring near Dehradun, which has a 9m-fall.

Other hot spring sites in India may share the same with some of the Uttarakhand springs and should not be confused with them.

It has two hot springs, Surya Kund and Gauri Kund, located at the site of the temple of Goddess Yamuna.

On the way from Yamunotri to Gangotri is Gangnani , also known as Rishi Kund. also, there is a hot spring in the village Sukhi

Kedarnath: Gauri Kund (not to be confused with the one with the same name at Yamunotri). It is believed that the Goddess Parvati during her penance bathed in this kund. there is another hot spring by the name of Garam Kund.

Badrinath: on the way from Rishikesh to Badrinath,near Joshimath, there is a hot spring named Tapovan. Just below the temple of Badrinath is believed to be the abode of Lord Agni (Fire). Narad Kund is located next to tapt kund. Another hot spring near Dehradun, which has a 9m-fall.

Other hot spring sites in India may share the same with some of the Uttarakhand springs and should not be confused with them.

PATAL BHUVANESHWAR
It invites you to explore the world beneath

PATAL BHUVANESHWAR IS a limestone cave temple located in the village Bhubneshwar 14km from Gangolihat in the Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand. The cave is 160 m long and 90 ft deep from the point of entrance and after a descent of about 100 steps the sanctum sanctorum is reached this cave has a narrow tunnel like opening which leads to a number of caves each linked to the other.

Legend has it that this cave enshrines lord Shiva and 33 crore (330 million) gods over time limestone rock formations have created various spectacular stalsctite and stalagmite figures of various hues. Devotees claim the forms of ganesha sheshnag garurh shivling and kal bhairav are distinctly visible. Especially famous are the stone formations of sheshnag who is seen holding the earth, heaven and the world beneath

Adi shankaracharya visited this cave in AD 1191 and the temple was built in 12th century AD by the chand kings

These days cave is fully illuminated though photography is not permitted inside the cave

GOOD TO KNOW: The nearest railhead is at kathgodam, about 185 km away

Char dham Yatra
The most challenging revered circuit

CHAR DHAM LITERALLY means ‘the four abodes’ and the purpose of the Char Dham Yatra of the Himalayas is pilgrimages to the heavenly abode. Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath, all in the beautiful mountain state of Uttarakhand are the pilgrm’s focus. (Not to be mistaken with the longer Char Dham Yatra to the pilgrimage of Jagannath puri, Rameswaram, Dwarka and Badrinath shrines that are located at four different corners of India. Badrinath is the only site which features in both yatras).

The Char Dham Yatra generally starts at Haridwar- which is why some people refer to Haridwar as the ‘ gateway to Himalayan pilgrimage’- and moves from west to east. the pilgrim ‘ s first halt is Yamunotri and then they proceed to Gangotri, onto Kedarnath, and then the yatra finally ends at the holy site of Badrinath.

Yamunotri is the place of origin of the sacred river Yamuna. The temple of the goddess is situated here.

Gangotri is believed to be the origin of the river Ganga, the holiest of the rivers, though the glacier from which the river originally gets its water lies a little north at Gaumukh. At Gangotri, which is accessible by vehicles,temples are sprinkled across the landscape and the aarti perfomed at the banks of the river is mesmerising.

Kedarnath, the third venue in the Char Dham yatra, is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Kedaranath is one of only twelve jyotirlingas (where Lord Shiva is supposed to be permanently residing) and is one the holiest sites for Hindus. the temple,it is believed was built in 8th century AD by Adi Shankaracharya himself.

Badrinath: the last destination of the Yatra is Badrinath , the shrine dedicated to Lord Vishnu.the small town and the temple lie at a height of approximately 3,750m from sea level. the legend goes that when Lord Vishnu was residing in this place, goddess Lakshmi, his wife, took the from of Badri a local berry tree, to protect Vishnu from the direct heat of the sun.pleased, Vishnu pronounced that his temple would be named after the goddess; hence tthe name Badrinath for the temple.while the longer char dham is dedicated only to Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu, the Himalayan char dham also includes the third important section of Hindu spirituality i.e. Shakti (goddess) in the from of Yamunotri and Gangotri.

Apart from the main four attractions of the Yatra, there are other picturesque villages and tourist spots nearby.

Barkot, adjacent to Yamunotri, is fast gaining its place as a natural tourist and adventure spot.sprinkled with apple orchards,it sits at 1,200m, offering awesome views of snow-capped Himalayan peaks, the most prominent of which is Bandarpoonch.

Guptkashi, another abode of Lord Shiva,lies en route to Kedarnath and is known for its ancient Vishwanath temple, which shares its name with the one in Varanasi. Another temple,the Ardhanarishwar, also dedicated to Lord Shiv, houses the deity in the form of half woman, resonating the Hindu concept of the co-existence of Shiva (universe)and Shakti (Energy).

Gauri Kund, on the way to Kedarnath, is one of the most important, pilgrimage, for Hindus. Legend has it that Penance here to win over Lord Shiva. Shiva finally accepted her love and married her. Lord Ganesha is believed to have got his elephant countenance in this place, which makes the site extremely important for Hindus. pilgrim throng to the hot sprigs here, too.

The entire Yatra takes ten to eleven days to complete. For mystics and pilgrims who prefer to travel on foot, it may take longer. the ideal time for the Yatra is from may to July and from september to October.

GOOD TO KNOW: The char Dham Yatra usually starts at Haridwar,which is connected by air (jolly Grant,near Dehradun) and rail to the rest of India. Many independent tour operators offer packages.

Nanda Devi Raj Jat Yatra
Celebrated once in twelve years

THIS GRAND RELIGIOUS festival is celebrated once every 12 years in Uttarakhand, which is steeped in the legend of goddess Nanda Devi, particularly in Almora district, home to the famous Nanda Devi temple, and in the Chamoli district of the Garhwal region. A charming legend of a woman returning to her husband’s home underlies this festival. On this occasion goddess Nanda is taken to Gaungati peak, which is believed to be the icy abode of her husband, lord shiva. Thousands of devotees carry the deity on this 280-km trek. The starting point is Nauti village, of Chamoli district where descendants of the royal priests live.

The idol of the goddess made of gold is placed on the Ringal ki Chhantoli a special umbrella, along with a four horned ram that acts as a guide. After religious ceremonies devotion is set off for trek. The hallmark of the austerities they undertake. While some of them they go barefoot, others give up food. Special rituals are performed at every stopover.

All this ends on the 22nd day at Homkund. Here the goddess is decorated as a bride and people bid farewell and give her a ceremonial send off as she has reached her destination. It is both a joyous and sorrowful occasion as the festivities come to an end.

GOOD TO KNOW: Nanda Devi Raj Jat Yatra wil be held in 2025. The yatra starts near Karnaprayag a town about 172 km from Dehradun.

Kailash Mansarovar Yatra
The journey to the abode of Shiva is packed with thrills

THE REVERENTIAL AURA that encapsulates the Himalayas is nowhere more evident then in Mount Kailash and Mansarovar. It is the most important pilgrimage in the Himalayan region.perhaps no other pilgrimage symbolises the yearning of the spirit to attain heights closest to the gods, and the indomitable spirit of the pilgrim to undertake this task. Lake Mansarovar and Mount Kailash are considered holy by Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and Bons. In the ancient religious texts of these religions, Mount Kailash is referred to as the centre of the world as it is located at the heart of six mountain ranges that symbolise a lotus. Four major rivers of the Indian subcontinent originate around this area- the Indus, the Brahmaputra, the Karnali or the Ghaghar, and the Sutlej.

Replete with symbolism, for Hindus Mount Kailash represents Shiva’s symbolic lingam. Bons believe the sacred mountain to be the place where the founder of the bon religion descended from the sky. Tibetan Buddhists believe it is a natural mandala representing the Buddhist cosmology on the earth, and the place, also known as Mount Ashtapada, where their religion’ s first prophet tirthankara Rishabhdev meditated and attained supreme enlightenment. Lake Mansarovar is the highest fresh water body in the world. Hindus believe that one who drinks water from the lake will ascend to the abode of lord Shiva after death. Also, he will be cleansed of all sins committed over a hundred lifetimes. The lake is almost round in shape and measures approximately 88km in circumference. Adjacent to it is lake Rakshash Taal (Lake of the Demon) which, though naturally connected to the sweetwater lake of Mansarovar, is actually salty and no life or vegetation is found in it.

Thousands of pilgrims arrive at Mount Kailash and Lake Mansarovar following a tradition going back thousands of years. as per tradition, pilgrims cicumambulate Mount Kailash on foot for good fortune. The peregrination is made in a clockwise direction by Hindus and Buddhists and anti-clockwise by Jains and Bons. The path around mount Kailash is 52 km long.

There are only four land routes to reach mount Kailash. Helicopter rides from Napal are also available. Darchen marks the entry point for Mount Kailash.

The best time to visit Kailash Mansarovar is from May to October. A very limited number of visas are issued for Indian citizens; hence the trip needs to be planned well in advance and proper administrative clearances need to be taken.

GOOD TO KNOW: The Kailash Mansarovar Yatra is organised by the Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam. Visit WWW.kmvan.gov.in for details.

Corbett National Park
The crowning glory of Uttarakhand’s wildlife offerings.

NAMED AFTER WELL-KNOWN author and wildlife conservationist Jim Corbett, who created the reserve, the Jim Corbett National Park is the oldest such reserve in India. Established in 1936, it was first called Hailey National Park, after the British officer Major Hailey, who was a part of completed 75 The park offerings recently years and is counted its inception. one of the best experiences for as wildlife enthusiasts Nestled between the Lesser Himalayas in the north and Shivaliks in the south, the gurgling waters of the Ramganga river and its various tributaries feed the park. With more than 70,000 footfalls every year, from India and across the world, it is also a successful example of ecotourism in the country. Situated in Nainital district, the around 521 sq km park is home to more than 1,200 species of flora and fauna. The highly successful Project Tiger, for the conservation for the Royal Bengal Tiger, was first implemented here.

According to newspaper reports, in the last census, the park had 164 tigers. It apparently has one of the highest density of tigers with 20 tigers per sq km. Apart from the tiger, a large population of elephants, leopards, deer, sambhar, crocodile, reptiles and monkeys thrive in this park.

Some of the other species found here are the jungle cat, sloth, Himalayan black bear, Indian grey mongoose, ghoral(goat-antelopes), pangolin and owls. Guided treks can be taken around the Park, and you should also visit the Kalagarh Dam for birdwatching. staggering variety of trees, shrubs, bamboos, grasses and fe can be found here. It is densely covered with trees like sal, haldu pipal, rohini and mango.

GETTING THERE: The town of Ramnagar is the headquarters of Corbett and is connected to Delhi, Lucknow and Varanasi, via rail. Ramnagar is also well connected by road with Lucknow, Nainital Ranikhet, Haridwar, Dehradun and New Delhi. Taxis are available from Ramnagar to go to the Park.

PARK IS OPEN FROM: November 15 to June 15

Close to Dehradun, it has impressive flora & fauna

RAJAJI NATIONAL PARK is spread over an area of 820 sq km and comes under three districts of Uttarakhand: Haridwar, Dehradun Pauri-Garhwal.

In 1983, the Park came into existence when three wildlife sanctuaries, Chilla, Motichur and Rajaji in the Shivalik mountain ranges in the outer Himalayas were merged into one big reserve. It is named after C. Rajagopalachari Rajaji), the famous freedom fighter who became the first Governor- General of India.

Sub-tropical, riverine and sal forests and grasslands abound at this park. It is home to the Asian elephant, cheetal, hog deer, barking deer, sambhar, wild boar, leopard, jackal, hyena, sloth bear, langur, pythons, cobra, monitor lizard and, of course, the Royal Bengal Tiger The Park also houses over 400 avian species.

Some major attractions nearby are the pilgrimage centres of Haridwar and Rishikesh.

GETTING THERE: The nearest airport is at Jolly Grant, near Dehradun(approx 33 km) and the nearest railway station is Haridwar(approx 8 km). It is connected to Delhi and Lucknow via rail and road.

BEST TIME TO VISIT: Mid-November to mid-June.